Your rental properties aren’t just an asset, but they’re a source of income, so allowing just anyone to move in is a terrible idea! When renting out one of your properties, you want to be sure the tenant will care for the location just as well as you would, and also respect your landlord-tenant relationship. It can be hard to know which tenant is the best fit, but by looking out for the following six red flags, you can avoid many future issues and have a much smoother landlord experience:
1. Income Insufficiency/Poor Employment History
The most important part of evaluating potential tenants is their ability to pay rent. A regular, consistent form of income must be present, or there’s no reason to consider the rental application any further.
Most potential tenants earn an income through employment. Employment history is easily verifiable with a few phone calls or emails. If the responses you get don’t match up with the applicant’s story, you should move on to another.
Some people have incomes that do not come from employment, so unemployment by itself is not a reason to reject an applicant. However, they should be able to provide documentation of the income they do have, how much it is, and how often they receive it. If they can’t, then move on to the next applicant.
2. Eviction History
Every eviction has its backstory, but experienced landlords know that history has a tendency to repeat itself. If a potential tenant has an eviction record, ask them about the circumstances. There is a possibility that the eviction was at no fault of the tenants, but more often than not, eviction history is a clear indication of future problems to come.
3. Bad Credit
Just like eviction history, bad credit by itself is not a reason to reject a rental applicant. Many people deal with poor credit after unavoidable circumstances such as a divorce or bankruptcy. However, bad credit is definitely something to look further into when vetting rental applicants. Within the confines of rental and fair housing laws, ask about the circumstances that led to the poor score before deciding yes or no about a potential tenant.
4. Criminal History
Many people have a criminal history, but most are for minor issues like traffic violations. If an applicant shows a long and recent criminal history, beware! People with frequent interactions with the law are notoriously poor tenants. However, if the criminal history is minor or from a long time ago, the applicant shouldn’t be excluded.
Any form of dishonesty from a rental application should be grounds for immediate exclusion. Applicants may create fake references, employment history, or more on a rental application in hopes of tricking the landlord into renting to them. Don’t be fooled! Check every piece of information on the rental application thoroughly. If anything doesn’t match up with your research, ask the applicant about it. If they can’t come up with a suitable answer, move on to the next option.
6. Behavior Issues
While financial issues are the most common red flags to look out for, tenants who display odd behavior can be just as problematic as tenants who can’t pay. This is why it is so important for a landlord to speak with a tenant in person before agreeing to a rental contract. So much about a tenant can only be learned from direct interaction, as anyone can make themselves look good on paper!
If your potential tenant starts out with unreasonable demands before the lease agreement has even been signed, steer clear and find a more realistic prospect.
Let us handle the red flags for you!
If you own rental property in southwest Florida and feel overwhelmed trying to find the right tenants, we’re here to help. Douglas Realty Property Management has the experience, resources, and time needed to thoroughly vet every single rental application that we receive, ensuring that we only put the highest-quality tenants in your property. This puts more money in your pocket with less stress on your mind. Call us at (239) 542-6906 or contact us online to find out more about our proven tenant screening process today!